Verdict Ridge set its sights on greener project
DENVER – The greens on the Verdict Ridge Country Club golf course will have a new look and feel when the summer ends.
The club will install new Champion ultradwarf bermudagrass greens over 8 weeks beginning June 25.
Scott Knox, the club’s general manager, said it will save time and money.
“It putts really well. It doesn’t need as much water,” Knox said. “You get more playable days, which allows the members to come out and enjoy it more. And then you spend less money maintaining it, so it helps you both ways.”
Knox said the course won’t close during the installation process, but will provide temporary greens mowed just in front of the real ones.
Verdict Ridge’s current greens are bentgrass, Knox said, a cool-weather grass that most local courses have. But hotter-than-normal summers in recent years were wreaking havoc on the 6,980-yard course, drying out the greens and creating trouble for its members.
“Our greens are perfect right now, but when you play in the middle of the summer, they aren’t what you expect,” Knox said. “They’re either baked (really dried out) or really slow and they’ve been punched (aerated). There’s just no root structure.”
Verdict Ridge spent about $50,000 a few years ago to install industrial-sized fans around the course greens to create more air flow, but Knox didn’t get the results he was looking for.
That’s why the club decided to install ultradwarf bermudagrass, a $350,000 privately funded project that will improve green conditions year-round. Bermudagrass thrives in hot weather, meaning the club won’t spend as much time and money watering and aerating the greens before, during and after the summer.
Ultradwarf bermudagrass is becoming a proven commodity among golf courses in the South. Atlanta Athletic Club, site of the 2011 PGA Championship, was the first course to host a major championship on ultradwarf bermudagrass greens.
The PGA, held in early August, was the tipping point for Verdict Ridge to make the change to bermudagrass.
“I think it’s the wave of the future,” Verdict Ridge course Superintendent Mitch Shaw said. “These bentgrass greens are very unpredictable in the summer and are just always on edge. Now, the golf course should be at it’s best in the summer when everyone is out there wanting to play.”
The club’s new grass will be shipped from Bay City, Texas, and installed using a no-till method, meaning the contours of the greens won’t be modified at all. Course workers will kill the bentgrass greens using Round Up and plant the new sprigs about a week later.
Knox isn’t the only one excited about the new putting surfaces.
“The greens are something that have been long-anticipated and desired for this club,” said Tom Murphy, a five-year member of Verdict Ridge. “I think it’s going to be the best thing that’s ever happened to Verdict Ridge.
Knox and other Verdict Ridge officials brought in the chief agronomist for the U.S. Golf Association to talk about the prospects of bermudagrass.
“We asked him every question you could ask and not one person in the business has said we’re making a bad decision,” Knox said.
Knox said the new greens should be ready for play by Aug. 25.